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Photographer Captures the Suffering of Zoo Animals Worldwide

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In a stirring and heart-breaking photography project, artist Gaston Lacombe has documented the lives of zoo animals around the world in an effort to raise awareness for the plight of captive animals.

Zoos have long been a source of contention between animal lovers.  The best of zoos provide homes for rescued wild animals and are invaluable for research, rehabilitation and education. On the other hand, many zoos exist only for the purpose of making money, often at the expense of animals.


As Lacombe traveled throughout the world taking photos of captive animals, he gained some surprising insight. Describing his project, Lacombe said “[t]hese images were taken on five continents, in nine countries, including the USA and Canada. Many people assume that photos like this cannot come from North America, but about half of them are. In fact I’ve seen some of the worst animal habitats in the USA and Canada.”

Lacombe acknowledges that there are many zoos that make a great effort to provide adequate living conditions for their animals. However, even in these zoos, the best exhibits are almost always reserved for the crowd-attracting, ticket-selling animals. Tigers and pandas may have large lush habitats, but birds, reptiles and less popular mammals are typically in much smaller, low-budget enclosures. The photographer has also visited zoos that are “nothing more than places of animal torture, and should be closed right now.”


Lacombe hopes that projects such as his can raise awareness and give a voice to animals who are suffering and cannot speak for themselves. “Zoos are also very important for education,” he said, “but at what price for the animals? How can we strike a better balance?”

Photo Credit: gastonlacombe.com

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